On Bad Days

Sometimes I have a bad day. I know, amazing, but true. It doesn’t even have to be a big deal, like flood, fire, or famine, to get me feeling off-kilter. Sometimes it is a passion I have that doesn’t seem to be shared. Sometimes it is injustice. Sometimes I just feel tired, and sad, and frustrated.DSC01706

And I’m learning that this is ok.

I fall into that category of people who cope by stuffing emotions deep down inside. Truthfully, emotions are powerful and sometimes that power feels dangerous. Letting emotions out can seem like a lack of control or a loss of the ability to process through things logically. Coping mechanisms are great for life or death situations, but most of my life doesn’t take place on a literal battlefield.20150810_085430

As a positive, the ability to set aside emotion for a time to handle crises with a cool head is awesome. I have kept my cool while driving loved ones to the hospital. I have faced down angry people who would have only fed on any emotional energy I allowed to escape. I have been able to get through some tough personal and professional challenges without falling apart. My coping skills are great.

But when we function in non-emergent situations like they are life or death, when we walk through life on high alert, our coping skills become barriers that keep others at bay. If I shut down my emotions, it can take some time to open back up to process them. If I walk around without feeling while interacting with my kids, or my husband, or the people I am in ministry with, I become a hard stone wall. Inflexible.

Vulnerability is crucial to building relationships and community. If I can’t open up about my experiences, my feelings, my needs, then no one ever gets to know the real me. I have walled myself off from anyone who could help me build other skills or who have their own wisdom to contribute to the challenges I face.DSC01422

Giving myself permission to feel–even on bad days–is my key to unlocking the gates, and bringing down the walls.

I am not perfect. (Another blog for another day!) I need other people to walk through life. Defenses are great when you are under attack, but for all of the other situations I face on all the other days, those walls just get in the way.

Truth & Honesty.
Now that’s ReFreshing.

Silencing the “Shoulds” & Taking Back Your Schedule

I wear many hats. With every hat comes a list of things that I have to do in order to be a responsible hat-wearer. Unfortunately, most days there are just too many things I should do, and I am (by far) not the busiest person I know.

How did we get here and how do we do all of this without killing ourselves in the process?

Here is what I SHOULD include in my day:

Work is important, at least 8 hours a day
Health is important, 1 hour of exercise
Not smelling is important, 30 minutes to shower and get dressed
Mental health is important, 1 hour of reading
Spiritual health is important, too. 1 hour of prayer and meditation
Eating well is important, 1-2 hours cooking, 1-2 hours eating
Keeping house is important, 1 hour of cleaning
Spousal relationships are important, 1 hour of relationship building
My 3 kids are important, 30 minutes isn’t too much to ask for each of them, 1.5 hours of kid time
Having friends is important, 45 minutes of catching up
Helping others is important, 15 minutes of being a good neighbor
Clean clothes are important, 1.5 hours of laundry
Relaxation is important, 30 minutes of “me” time
Sleep is important, 8 hours to recharge

A full day, and it only took me 30 hours to accomplish it all. Good thing I don’t have to commute.

Reality dictates that the day has only 24 hours, and you only have a certain amount of energy to make it through each day.¬†We have set ourselves up for so much heartache when we stack our plates with unrealistic expectations. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do it all. I know that sometimes we can multitask, but even with those multitasking fixes, we easily end up stealing from tomorrow’s energy to accomplish today’s goals. Realistically, we cannot keep up this pace without having a breakdown along the way.

So what is likely to get laid down first? Anything that takes extra brain power or will power. This is why the typical American diet is horrendous. This is why our physical activity is lacking. This is why our houses get cluttered, or our relationships break down. We have to put energy into everything we do, so how do we begin to bring some sanity to our overloaded schedules?

Redistribute the workload. There are things you have to do, no one can exercise for you, but if you have a spouse, or kids, or a roommate, household tasks can be shared.

Simplify. Fewer things means fewer things to take care of. Fewer clothes means less laundry. Fewer dishes means less to load in to the dishwasher.

Remove or modify the things that correspond to someone else’s expectations. A lot of what drives our schedules comes from guilt or fear of not living up to what others expect. Set your priorities and let the rest go.

Don’t kill yourself trying to be HEALTHY! Health includes your stress levels. Make changes incrementally, simplify your diet and exercise routines. Healthy choices only count if you can actually follow through with them.

Don’t be afraid to plan. Sometimes I fear that if I actually see everything that I am doing written on a page I will faint from exhaustion. Planning ahead can really help us stay on task and not waste precious time and energy on things that will be important tomorrow instead of the things that must be done today.

If we don’t take the time to ponder our priorities, we get swept along in the riptide of demands on our time and energy. We run ourselves ragged, or we shut down and nothing (important or not) gets done. Take a deep breathe and start planning a new year of less stress and more health by taking control of your chaotic schedule!

Now that’s ReFreshing!